Police not to blame for woman's crash death
Police were not to blame for the death of a South Auckland woman killed as a patrol car sped to a burglary, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.
Liku Onesi died when the Pajero driven by her husband, Ikenasio, collided with the patrol car on Ormiston Rd in East Tamaki on August 22 last year.
The officer involved was on his way to nearby Otara, where between four and six people had kicked down the door of a woman living alone.
The patrol car was travelling at between 73kmh and 76kmh when it hit the Pajero which had turned through a line of heavy traffic and into its path.
The couple had been going to the Otara Tongan Methodist Church to help clean it when the crash happened.
The mother of four was thrown from the vehicle and died in an ambulance on the way to Middlemore Hospital.
The authority's report released today found that the unidentified officer's actions "were not contrary to law, unreasonable, unjustified, unfair or undesirable".
He had activated the car's warning lights and siren and was travelling at a speed justified by the circumstances, the report says.
The "tragic accident" occurred as the result of several factors, including limited visibility caused by congested traffic and the presence of a large truck.
The circumstances were "unique and not reasonably foreseeable" by the officer.
Counties Manukau police have accepted the findings.
District commander superintendent John Tims said the officer involved had acted as his training and police policy dictated.
"That said, the outcome was an absolute tragedy and we have worked closely with the Onesi family to support them since the accident."
Tims said police had the "deepest sympathies" for those affected by the crash.
"Police work hard to ensure the safety of our community and this is something we never want to see happen," he said.
IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said the authority would continue its discussions with police about a review of policies surrounding high-speed chases.
ANOTHER CRASH AT SITE
Just before the IPCA report was released today, another crash occurred at the deadly intersection near where Liku Onesi lost her life.
A vehicle ran a red light at the intersection of East Tamaki, Preston and Ormiston roads about 10.35am and skidded into a barrier.
Constable Steven Webb said the weather was a factor, but "the driver basically wasn't paying attention [and] that's about it".
Ambulances were called to the scene because the driver had had chest pains before the incident.
It is understood the driver wasn't seriously hurt.
The crash is just the latest in a long series of accidents at the notorious intersection.
Work to realign and upgrade the junction is on the cards, but has been delayed after a local business objected to the changes in the Environment Court.
Auckland Transport will also need to buy more land to undertake the project, pushing the start date out to 2016-17.
In another report released today, the IPCA also cleared police over a chase that resulted in a teenage motorcyclist and his 16-year-old pillion passenger receiving serious injuries.
The incident happened on 28 July, 2012, when Akshay Fenn, the rider of the motorbike, fled police after being signalled to stop after he had been seen speeding and travelling in a bus lane on Mt Albert Road in Auckland.
The IPCA said that instead of pulling over, Fenn tried to get away from the police by weaving in and out of traffic and driving through a red light. As the officer in pursuit turned a corner he saw the motorbike, about 300 metres ahead, collide with another vehicle.
Fenn and his passenger were thrown from the motorbike. Fenn suffered several fractures to both legs while his passenger sustained a serious head injury. The driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injury.
"This was an accident caused by the actions of 17-year-old Mr Fenn that resulted in serious injury to himself and his passenger," Sir David said, finding that the police officer had complied with the law and police policy in the pursuit.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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